Review: Murder Below Montparnasse by Cara Black
Author: Cara Black
Title: Murder Below Montparnasse
Release: March 5, 2013
Series: Aimee Leduc Investigations #13
Purchase: | Book Depository
A long-lost Modigliani portrait, a grieving brother’s blood vendetta, a Soviet secret that’s been buried for 80 years—Parisian private investigator Aimée Leduc’s current case is her most exciting one yet.
When Aimée’s long-term partner and best friend Rene leaves their detective agency for a new job in Silicon Valley, Aimée knows she can handle the extra workload. At least, that what she tells herself. Repeatedly.
But all bets are off when Yuri Volodya, a mysterious old Russian man, hires Aimée to protect a painting. By the time she gets to his Montparnasse atelier, the precious painting has already been stolen, leaving Aimée smelling a rat. The next day, Yuri is found tortured to death in his kitchen. To top it all off, it looks like Aimée isn’t the only one looking for the painting. Some very dangerous people are threatening her and her coworkers, and witnesses are dropping like flies. Now Aimée has to find the painting, stop her attackers, and figure out what her long-missing mother, who is on Interpol’s most wanted list, has to do with all this—fingers crossed she wasn’t Yuri’s murderer, despite clues pointing in that direction.
I was introduced to Cara Black’s Aimee Leduc mysteries by Doll Dana – who never steers me wrong and was hooked very soon after. Black’s Aimee is a unique heroine who seems like a tough PI with a no nonsense attitude but really, has hidden vulnerabilities that especially come to the forefront of the story in Murder Below Montparnasse.
Aimee’s current case comes as a bit of a surprise. Still getting used to Rene’s departure for the glamour of the Silicon Valley, Aimee is soon forced to face losing another member of her team when Saj is injured in a car accident – and accused of purposely running over a Serbian man. Aimee believes there is more to the crash victim than meets the eye, especially when she discovers that the crash occurred right next to the home of Yuri Volodya, a Russian who was looking to hire her to protect a priceless Modigliani painting…a painting that has just disappeared.
Aimee wants to refuse the case – but then Yuri says he knows her mother and has information to share. Yes, Aimee is about to have a busy few days. Death threats, Trotskyists, the mysterious fixer, Russian plots and a new intern make for a fast-paced seat of your pants kind of a read.
As I mentioned, Murder Below Montparnasse shows quite a bit of Aimee’s vulnerable side and for me, it was one of the biggest draws of this book. Dealing with the new info on her mother, Rene’s departure and their friendship and her romantic relationship all in one go made this a very emotional read – in a good way.
A side plot involving Rene and his new life in sunny California adds another mystery to the plot pot but Black always seems to keep the story lines flowing with expert ease.
As always, the City of Paris plays a huge part in the story – every time I finish one of these books I start checking out possible deals on flights. Black is the perfect tour guide, taking the reader through fashionable, mysterious and seedy Paris in a way that makes you feel like you’re there.
Murder Below Montparnasse is another winner in this spectacular series for those looking for a slightly darker edge to their mysteries. A note to those unfamiliar with this series: While it makes keeping track of characters easier, there in no real need to read these books in order.